Review: Opening Ball

Jonathan Gibb on the first KK night of the year

Jonathan Gibb

The Kate Kennedy Club couldn’t have made a more powerful opening statement. Lower College Lawn was, once again, transformed into a venue fitting of a black tie event. As I entered this year’s opening ball, the first thing which struck me was how well the venue was arranged.

There was a perfect balance struck between the outdoor and indoor spaces and, at no point, did it feel unorganized. Freshers, armed with flutes of complimentary champagne, wandered down towards the lawn. A segmented giant marquee divided the area into two rooms, one of them a large main area which had everything from free Janetta’s ice-cream cones, a ball staple, to a Lightbox Photo Booth. By the strike of ten o’clock, it was almost impossible to walk from the entrance to the smaller tent, which featured a bandstand, due to the influx of guests.

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The highlight of the evening was in the outdoor and partially covered bar. Nestled beside the sound system, it almost had an impressively mini-festival vibe to it – something which I would not think of ever using to describe this annual occasion! Two crowd-pleasing DJs Joe Jones, and Asquire, really saved the first half of the evening from the typical nightmarish sluggishness that accompanies the start of typical formal balls. A longer set from them both, in the more spacious main tent, wouldn’t really have gone amiss. Yet, the strategic placement of the sound-system next to the outdoor bar was as close to clubbing heaven as you’re ever going to experience in St Andrews. Glowing seating was plentifully spaced out over the lawn and was the perfect place to chill (…though, admittedly, it was a bit too chilly to do so!)

The saxophonist, of the Seedy Soundsystem, in the main tent was definitely the highlight of the evening and his cover of Duke Dumont brought back the pleasant memories of May Ball. The dancing space in the smaller tent was surprisingly great, in relation to the band stand, and at no point did it feel cramped. And, as the evening started to wind down, guests couldn’t leave without walking past St Andrews catering favorites, The Buffalo Food Truck and Butler’s Wraps.

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Given that this was pitched as the first black tie event of the year, I believe the price of tickets was fairly justified. The two charities (Home Start and Unite Against Cancer) supported by the KK Club this year, will no doubt benefit from guest’s contributions. With this year’s Opening Ball easing us into the ritual of black-tie in the bubble, the KK have set the standard for what’s expected, and it’s not going to be an easy feat to beat, by any typical means.


All Photos Courtesy of Alex Massek

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